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5 Songs That Resonate With Me As a Suicide Loss Survivor

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When I was 13, I lost my friend Malaya to suicide. The year after her death, I got involved with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and I’ve been involved in the suicide prevention world to varying degrees ever since. Even with all the community I’ve found over the last 13 years, I still get a certain feeling when suicide loss comes up in pop culture: the feeling of being seen. Representation matters, especially when it comes to our life experiences.

There are a lot of songs about grief and those can speak to the experience of suicide loss, but these five songs are specifically about it.

1. “Wounded Healer” by Watsky

Based on the lyrics, it seems this song is about the suicide death of Watsky’s father’s friend. As a young suicide loss survivor, the song does a beautiful job of wrestling with the awareness of mortality I felt after Malaya died. The first verse after mentioning the suicide loss has Watsky discussing his fear of his father getting older. Losing a friend brought a whole new awareness of mortality.

(Content warning: method mentioned in the song.)

2. “Suicide Doors” by Mona Haydar

“I can see her mama with my eyes closed… I remember those first few nights, we shared the bed and just cried.”

This line resonated with me so strongly the first time I heard it (and still does); it nearly brought tears to my eyes. I so vividly remember being with my friends the first few days after Malaya died and I don’t think I’ll ever forget the image of her mom at the funeral. This song makes me feel seen as a friend loss survivor as well. Mona opens the song talking about things her friend used to say, signs she might’ve shown. She goes on to talk about wishing she could have done more. Though friends obviously have a part to play in suicide prevention because they sometimes hear or see the most, we often feel helpless because there’s vital information we don’t know (health insurance and family history information, for example).

3. “Send in the Sun” by Watsky

“…who am I to say a choice you made was stupid, but there’s a bunch of us who love you… F-ing stuck here pointing fingers at ourselves for something you did.”

I think this is the first song I ever heard that really made me feel seen as a loss survivor when it came out in 2013. The beautiful balance that Watsky expresses in this song between compassion and anger is something I’ve seen countless suicide loss survivors experience. You can hear Watsky struggle to keep himself from yelling as he levels accusations that his friends “went away forever to a new place.” I also know very few suicide loss survivors who didn’t point fingers at themselves and others at some moment in their journey. It’s a part of the process, the search for why.

(Content warning: method mentioned in the song.)


4. “Not a Damn Thing Changed” by Lukas Graham

“Some of my friends started leaving this life ’cause they couldn’t wait. They know how it feels without hope. I’m glad I got somewhere to go.”

Lukas Graham has a habit of releasing songs that express a lot of emotional anguish, but this one specifically about losing a friend to suicide always hits the hardest. The lyrics come fast in this song, but “they know how it feels without hope” sticks. When the album first came out, I looked up the lyrics to understand exactly what he was saying about this loss. “Not a Damn Thing Changed” is such a beautiful and tragic theme for suicide loss because that’s how it feels sometimes –especially if you don’t know someone’s reasons. Yesterday, that person was alive and today, everything is the same, except they’re gone. When Malaya died, we were still a few months away from graduating middle school, living life in NYC like regular 13 year olds, but we were doing it without her.

(Content warning: method mentioned in the song.)

5. “Twenty-Three” by MC Lars

This is the one song on the list that was made explicitly for suicide prevention awareness. The most powerful part of this song for me is when MC Lars plays a clip of his friend’s voice. It’s so simple but I remember the relief of finding a clip of Malaya on my phone. Having recordings like that keep their voice alive long after they’re gone. I’m sure it’s hard for MC Lars to listen to the clip, but it is an incredibly powerful way to remind people that those lost to suicide are ordinary humans, who had fun and good times with friends.

If you’re a suicide loss survivor, is there a song that resonates with you? Let us know in the comments below.

Screen shot via Oglio.

Originally published: September 20, 2019
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